Obama's Speech: A Persuasive Argument For His Af/Pak Strategy

I did not see it and I have seen no reaction to it. Here is the speech. Here are my reactions:

The President said "I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion." I think the speech should be judged on how well it fulfilled those three stated objectives. More . .

The Nature of the Commitment. The President said:

[I]t's important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda -- a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda's base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban -- a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them -- an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 -- the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda's terrorist network and to protect our common security.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy -- and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the U.N., a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.

I find this to be an important reminder for so many have chosen to couch the Afghanistan question as one of American imperialism and overreach. Whatever happens going forward, I think it is irresponsible and wrong to argue the United States is there because it has imperial designs on Afghanistan. The Taliban housed and aided Al Qaida. That is why the US went there. Whether we should stay is a larger question, but it is irresponsible and wrong to argue that the US is morally wrong to have engaged in a military conflict in Afghanistan. I would hope we can all agree on that. The President continued:

[I]n early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war, in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It's enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention -- and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

This is a political statement, but a necessary one - the state of the Afghanistan was critically and harmfully impacted because of the Bush Administrations obsession with starting an unnecessary and catastrophic war in Iraq. Again, this is not to the point of what we must do in Afghanistan now, but it is critical context, especially with regards to the politics of this situation. The President continued:

[W]hile we've achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda's leadership established a safe haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it's been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.

(Emphasis supplied.) Safe haven in PAKISTAN. Now to see how the President ties his Afghanistan policy to the Pakistan issue:

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

The Pakistani connection is glossed over a bit but the threat of the re-establishment of an Al Qaida stronghold in Afghanistan is explained well. This certainly supplies, in my view, strong justification for a vigorous military commitment in Afghanistan. The President continued:

I [. . .] announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.

Does anyone quarrel with these goals? I do not. Indeed, I think this is at the heart of our reasons for being in Afghanistan. But something is missing - the explanation of the Pakistan problem. It comes only in drips and drabs - "Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border."

(Emphasis supplied.) Why dance around the word PAKISTAN? Indeed there is an abrupt transition in the speech at this time - a switch to --

The TACTICS (NOT the STRATEGY)The Obama Administration Will Pursue. The President said:

As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that's why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people -- and our troops -- no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

This is not strategy. This is tactics. Moreover, the President NEVER explains the "scope of our interests." This is a rhetorical failure imo. Perhaps later in the speech will rectify this shortcomings:

If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow. So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity.

(Emphasis supplied.) The President there supplies a description of the "scope of our interests." Still missing is the strategy the US will pursue (tactics have been announced - strategy has not been announced. Let's see if the President supplies it in the speech:

We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

Is that the strategy? No, that is the objective and a rather amporphous one at that. What is the strategy then for "keep[ing] the prsssure on Al Qaeda[?]" ESPECIALLY in Afghanistan. The President puts more meat on the bones here

-- The Strategy:

Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

Now, how to to do that? The President said:

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months. [the troop increase is the tactic] [. . .] Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security. [. . .] Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.

(Emphasis supplied.) NOW we get to the rub - PAKISTAN. The President said:

We're in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That's why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who've argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan's democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

This is the highlight of the speech. And it clinches my support for the President's policy. Some believe that an effective strategy can be carried out without the military commitment. I do not share that view. Like the President, I belive the military component is critical. But it is important that the Obama Administration understand that it is not enough. And it is imperative that the PAKISTAN situation be addressed adequately. Indeed, the Afghanistan situation can never be successfully addressed without the adequate implementation of a Pakistan strategy that can work.

The end of the President's speech struck me as much political blather but not important for consideration OTHER THAN his foolish decision to set an exit date that he can not possibly comply with. That is a political mistake. I trust it will not effect policy.

Speaking for me only

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    A disappointment (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jackson on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:45:20 AM EST
    I was troubled by the speech.  He still hasn't made up his mind.  He says the war is vital to our national security, but we're leaving after 18 months regardless -- unless the military situation is such that we can't leave then.  We still don't know the end game.  Many of the young men and women in that room will face death without knowing the endgame.    

    He can inspire, but so far he can't lead.

    Again, here is what he actually said: (none / 0) (#153)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:59:41 AM EST
    After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

    This is being so widely misreported, much as was Obama's alleged opposition to war, all war.

    It is more than odd to find myself in conversations recently defending Obama on that count to those who only heard what they wanted to hear.  And now I can see that 18 months from now, I will be in that odd position again.  Hold him to what he says, but not to what others thought they heard him say.


    Well Fox News is claiming (none / 0) (#154)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:02:41 PM EST
    he's a giant Wuss for making such statements about turning tail and running back home

    They will take anything and run with it (5.00 / 1) (#179)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:26:00 PM EST
    Deliberate misinterpretation is their MO.

    Yup (none / 0) (#190)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:33:07 PM EST
    The man has no friends today though...well a couple, but it's lonely being his friend today :)

    I remember giving the diarist (none / 0) (#191)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:35:07 PM EST
    a hard time yesterday about his diary and "having Obama's back" before the speech was even given.  Now I know why I guess that diary was necessary in the universe.  There's herding cats and then there's when cats attack :)

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#185)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:54:29 PM EST
    call me so surprised.  But so what?  I rarely watch it.  And I would not rely on any cable news to tell me how to think -- including to think that if Fox News is against it, I gotta be for it.

    Sad state of affairs (none / 0) (#199)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 04:19:06 PM EST
    I just talked with a woman that canceled their vacation in January because Glen Beck says we could be heading for a depression! Unbelievable as it sounds, there are idiots out there that believe all this garbage!

    When did we stop teaching kids to think in school? They're growing up into really dumb adults.


    Like Obama, you (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:45:29 AM EST
    end your speech with what really should be the beginning of your speech:

    Some believe that an effective strategy can be carried pout without the military commitment. I do not share that view. Like the President, I belive the military component is critical.

    In the face of the historical inability of military solutions to solve the problem you set out, you don't provide any facts or evidence to take the contrary view.  That's why the rational, centrist position is to oppose the attempt to expand the war.

    I think its time to stop calling it (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:09:35 AM EST
    an "attempt".  the war is expanded.

    one other think that struck me last night was the absence of bumper sticker talk.
    there were no bumper stickers created in that speech.  and very little soaring rhetoric. it was a nuts and bolts speech about getting from here to there.
    how refreshing.


    I got the exact same thing too (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:11:29 AM EST
    I read that a lot of people heard rhetoric and rhetoric and rhetoric.  I was glued because my whole family life is centered around this issue at the moment and I heard nuts and bolts.

    I guess we heard different (none / 0) (#24)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:11:43 AM EST
    speeches then.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:46:46 AM EST
    At least the speech wasn't a complete failure. Funny how that exit date keeps coming up. You noticed, too, huh?

    Eugene Robinson much as called the president a liar: not an iota of sincerity in the exit date claim.

    My guess is the promise to leave is about all the life-preserver Dems up for re-election in 2010 can expect.

    My only hope, probably hopelessly un-realistic, is that there might be some sort of negotiated settlement that results from this deployment.

    The end date (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:15:20 AM EST
    is clearly and obviously to warn the Karzai government it has to shape the heck up, and fast, or it's going to be left to its own devices.  If it were a political sop to the left, it would be an astoundingly stupid one because he will have to reneg on it just before his own reelection.  It makes no sense whatsoever as a political tactic.

    The consensus view (none / 0) (#57)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:35:02 AM EST
    appears to be that the promise is a sop to anti-surge Dems, to provide them with some sort of political cover.

    The problem, of course, is that many, perhaps very many, silly people might actually take this president at his words.

    MO Blue has quote from Bowers interviewing senior Obama officials who disavow the entire charade.

    Brando and Sheen help put the entire mess in some perspective.


    The consensus view (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:45:07 AM EST
    is a idiot, to paraphrase somebodyorother.

    "senior Obama officials" (none / 0) (#70)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:43:50 AM EST
    names please.  
    perhaps we should consider the possibility that they really believe, as Tracy said, this is something that can be taken care of quickly with the right targeted actions.
    perhaps we should wait and see if it is in fact a charade.

    I've (none / 0) (#99)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:03:28 AM EST
    frankly no idea what specific operations are on-going. One British newspaper reported that McChrystal planned to secure several major cities and withdraw from most others.

    The Guardian, however, yesterday reported that the Brits were committed to protecting 'centers' throughout Afghanistan.

    I don't believe a word that comes out of the mouth of this president. Not because he always lies, but because he always says two things: I promise to withdraw one combat brigade from Iraq every month from the time I take office* (If conditions permit)

    I doubt, however, he will be able to walk away from Afghanistan quite so easily and I don't credit them with the forethought to game this out so that the US achieves its goals.

    He waited until the last possible moment to make any decision, because he isn't willing to commit to a long-term stay or an immediate withdrawal.

    I can't see the 30,000 doing much. Some may well return to the US in short order. But the speech reads to me like a pack of lies.

    First the surge, then the peace, then everyone lives happily ever after. (*If circumstances permit)


    Can't watch it at the moment (none / 0) (#94)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:57:57 AM EST
    But is it the line that goes something like "You're not a soldier - you're an errand boy sent by clerks to collect the bill."  ?

    Sounds close.


    "grocery clerks" (none / 0) (#111)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:13:55 AM EST
    not to put to fine a point on it.

    IMO the so called exit date (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:47:46 AM EST
    is a placebo to placate those who oppose continued military action.

    I just had a chance to talk with three senior Obama administration officials.  In regards to President Obama's statement that "after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home," I asked for clarification on how many troops would be coming home in eighteen months, and at what rate would they be coming home.

    The answers made it clear that there is no actual timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan:

        * There is no defined rate for, or number of troops involved in, the 2011 withdrawal.

        * They will be "taking conditions on the ground into account" in determining the withdrawal.

        * The withdrawal is "a goal."

    That is not a timeline.  At best, it is a message to the Karzai government that the Obama administration doesn't want to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.  However, there was plenty of room open in the response that they could stay there indefinitely, given the vagaries of the timeline. Chris Bowers - Open Left

    okee-dokee (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:57:09 AM EST
    Not a time-line and not an open-ended commitment.

    What's behind door number three? I thought the WH had their A-team out there controlling the message and already they're walking back the deadline promise.

    Don't suppose Bowers thought to follow-up with a question about the financial costs or this newly-revised non-exit?

    Just askin'


    The costs will be paid by the poorest (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:11:54 AM EST
    here in the U.S. when all domestic spending is cut to pay for our wars and our tax breaks to the wealthiest citizens and corporations.

    But what the heck, they have the least political clout so it is no big deal.


    Of course (none / 0) (#41)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:24:12 AM EST
    You're almost certainly correct: time-honored tradition across the board. Screw the poor.

    I'm frankly ready for a little nobility, even of the most modest order. We do a little community outreach.

    Thanks for the reminder to do a little more.

    How long will it be before some of troops/mercenaries decide to dip into all that opium floating around over there and start shipping some home? A few probably already have.

    Remember the scene from Apocalypse Now where Sheen is being transported in the chopper with the mad gunner?

    How many times do we have to relive this nightmare?


    "Our troops will BEGIN to come home" (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:24:14 AM EST
    in 18 months is the trick.  That could just mean 18-month stints in Afghanistan.  Those troops come home, others go in to replace them. . . .  

    Some of us learned the hard way, in another war era, to check the verb tenses.


    I discern no placebos with this (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:30:53 AM EST
    President.  He doesn't even want to do this.

    There were other choices (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:33:04 AM EST
    he could have made.  He could have started bringing troops home now.

    So there is no threat? (3.50 / 2) (#56)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:34:29 AM EST
    Obama is just some warmonger.  He can't wait to kill people.  He dreams about it in his sleep and smiles to himself. He gets off on it.

    Here's the thing. (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:39:57 AM EST
    Even if there is a "threat", that doesn't necessarily mean that expanding the war is the only way to deal with that threat.  You seem, to me at least, to be saying that those two things are inextricably linked.  In other words, what it seems to come down to for you is that the moment you see a "threat" the decision to go to war is, bar none, the only solution and that anyone who disagrees is not to be taken seriously.

    Why?  I assume we have "threats" all over the world all the time.  Have we historically gone to war each of those times?  I don't think so, and yet the planet still seems to be turning on its axis.  Identifying a "threat", to me at least, only seems to be step one in a decision to go to war.  But now it seems to be the end of the discussion.  To me, that's simply not rational.  It flies in the face of history.


    Your extrapolation of (5.00 / 3) (#75)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:47:41 AM EST
    MT's comment into a gigantic straw man is not rational, IMHO.

    Neither is my sick (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:50:20 AM EST
    straw Obama, but one straw deserves another :)

    I disagree. MT's stock (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:53:25 AM EST
    response to questioning the expansion is that there is a threat. It always seems to come down to the threat.  I stand by my response to that kind of argumentation.

    Have you ever (none / 0) (#95)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:59:00 AM EST
    seen MT say anything like this: "In other words, what it seems to come down to for you is that the moment you see a "threat" the decision to go to war is, bar none, the only solution and that anyone who disagrees is not to be taken seriously"

    I opined that Obama had (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:03:49 AM EST
    other choices.  Her response, simply, was to retort "So there is no threat?"  In other words, a flippant denial that there are other choices, seemingly justified only by a claim that there is a "threat."

    Oh, so you admit, then (3.50 / 2) (#156)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:15:03 PM EST
    that the words you put in her mouth were wholly false and made up.  That's good of you, I must say.

    Heh. (none / 0) (#164)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:39:37 PM EST
    my stock response :) (none / 0) (#105)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:07:11 AM EST
    Yeah....cuz I have those

    Well, several times I have gotten (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:10:07 AM EST
    into a discussion of the war with you in these threads it has ended with you asking me if I think there's a threat.  As if that is the be all end all of the discussion.

    Again, I think the existence of threats begins the discussion but does not end it.  But that's the one-liner you typically end with.  Just stating my experience.


    Look, Obama is a huge liar okay (2.00 / 1) (#122)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:21:16 AM EST
    He's going to send thousands and thousands of soldiers to their possible death because he can and for no other reason.  He is a lowlife.  He is nothing more than a tall tinted Cheney.  Happy now?  

    "tall tinted Cheney" (5.00 / 1) (#131)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:29:39 AM EST
    they are related you know

    I did not know (none / 0) (#134)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:34:08 AM EST
    On this one thing I geniunely feel sorry for Obama.  Well that and the fact that Fox News is claiming he's a wussy and the DFHers are calling him a traitor and a mass murderer of our young.  Now he's related to Dick Cheney?  Can anything go his way today?

    distant cousins (none / 0) (#139)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:44:11 AM EST
    if I remember correctly

    Yes....Obama couldn't wait (2.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:47:04 AM EST
    to expand war.  He gets off on it.  Even when there are thousands of better solutions right before his eyes laying on the table larger than life, he cannot resist what he gets off on.

    I never said he gets off on it. (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:51:59 AM EST
    I think he had choices, and he made the wrong one.  You seem to be implying that simply because there may be a "threat" that he had no choices.  I think that is an irrational and ahistorical opinion, and I disagree with it.

    You "think" he had choices (none / 0) (#90)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:54:55 AM EST
    that are better than clearly the one he does not want to have to choose?  That's precious.  I've never seen this President so serious.

    So you deny that there are choices? (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:06:17 AM EST
    None.  There was absolutely only one possible direction to take.  That no other possible alternative existed?

    IMO, life is never so simple.  Perhaps it is for you.  


    Yeah, life is so easy for me (3.50 / 2) (#110)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:13:54 AM EST
    they want to cut my disabled son's feet off while my husband sits in Afghanistan with a Top Secret clearance doing what I have not much of a clue about.  I'm so well versed in taking the first simple solution in life :)

    Good lord. (2.00 / 1) (#141)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:45:37 AM EST
    'Why won't you support the troops/prez/military/Amurika?'

    Funny, that is definitely (none / 0) (#142)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:47:28 AM EST
    the vibe I'm getting from you.  

    Oops...sorry Dr Molly (5.00 / 1) (#146)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:50:20 AM EST
    I thought that was MT.  It sounded so much like what she was saying here I didn't even see the irony!  :)

    Whatever (2.00 / 1) (#148)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:52:48 AM EST
    I sound a certain way.......couldn't be trigger finger :)

    No problem. (none / 0) (#150)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:53:36 AM EST
    Well then I guess you (none / 0) (#124)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:23:33 AM EST
    do agree that there are always choices.  So I guess we are in agreement after all.  :)

    So sorry to read this (none / 0) (#159)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:28:37 PM EST
    You definitely have more than your fair share.  Is your son military too?  

    No, he's nine years old...ten soon (none / 0) (#187)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:23:30 PM EST
    He has arthogrypotic feet poor kid.  Definitely never going to be a soldier but he can be many many other things.

    the first thing (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:50:15 AM EST
    I thought of is this is going to please no one.
    I thought it was a pretty good attempt to explain a terrible situation and how we got into it. I did think he could have spent a little more time on why its important to do what he wants to do.
    he seemed to avoid the subject of Pakistan as much as he could. talking about the "border regions" like there was no other country involved. I guess I understand why he needed to to that.
    I also liked that he spent the first part of the speech explaining why it is now the clusterf*ck it is and if we had kept our eyes on the ball it would not have been an "8 year war".
    all in all he gained a little respect in my eyes for making that speech. like I said. it pleased almost no one. any course of action based on polls would not have been the one he chose. I think its possible he thinks its the right thing to do.

    The 8 year (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:57:03 AM EST
    was just an attempt to pass the buck at this point because everybody knows what was done or not done as far as Afghanistan. It also raises the question in my mind as to whether anything can be done at this late date.

    kabillions for war, no money for health care (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by kmblue on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:58:55 AM EST
    why is that

    Not sure what you mean (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:02:10 AM EST
    There is a lot to criticize in HCR, but it does earmark 900 billion dollars over 10 years for health insurance assistance.

    An inconvenient truth (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:08:50 AM EST
    Someone sanely and sensibly reminds us that the
    'exit date' matters a great deal to the Afghans asked to work with US troops and allies.

    They're not likely to step up without clear assurances that Americans are there for the long haul. So who's getting spun here?


    The long haul IS the problem. (5.00 / 2) (#88)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:54:45 AM EST
    We need to cement our gains and get out.  Afghanistan has a long history of a weak and corrupt central government.  As a result, we can rely on that government for little help.  We are basically on our own there.  Anything we get done will be in spite of Karzai, not because of him.

    In for the long haul implies some kind of long term, consistent partnership with the powers that be in Afghanistan.   The powers that be just blatantly stole a democratic election.  I think our chances with making lasting progress are better in Pakistan.  Their government isn't squeaky clean, but it's more reliable and less corrupt.

    My message to Karzai would be "We'd like to help you but our allies in Pakistan are far more reliable and useful to us and we are spending our resources there instead.  Thanks and the best of luck.".  We'd make sure we keep sending some humanitarian and development aid to Kabul, but that's nothing compared to the mega millions we pouring into the country now.


    You make an excellent point (none / 0) (#120)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:17:43 AM EST
    Pretending the occupation by NATO and US forces is anything but an occupation imposed on at least part of the people in Afghanistan is delusional.

    The question is: do we get out or stay and try to fix part of the area. With the troops we have over there now I'd argue it makes as least as much sense to stay and offer that part of the Afghan population that want schools, technology, industry, and good hospitals the choice of living in the first world or that of the 14th century.

    I'd point to South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Germany and other assorted US protectorates to support my argument. Nobody in their right mind would want to move from South to North Korea; or from West to East Germany.

    I'm willing to pay my share of the tax burden to give Afghans a choice for as long as it takes, knowing full well we're talking about 50 years more, or so.

    I'm extremely reluctant to support any short-term escalation without clearly defined goals. McChrystal wanted 80 thousand and was willing to settle for 40. He's short 25% of the minimum.

    The mixed signals from the WH about the duration do not inspire confidence. More non-US nations may be willing to fight, but they won't fight for free.

    But who knows.


    I am a little surprised (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:00:42 AM EST
    that some on the left are seem so surprised.  its not like Obama did not say repeatedly during the campaign that Afghanistan was the good war.
    I guess its another example of the fact that most of them never really listened to what he was saying because they were so busy projecting.

    What does that mean? (5.00 / 1) (#161)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:32:37 PM EST
    Are we in Afganistan until we "win", accomplish the mission, or are we in it until 2011/2012?  I did not hear end goal from Obama.  Perhaps I missed it.  

    Is there a lot of expression (none / 0) (#17)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:08:36 AM EST
    of surprise?  I don't read the A-list blogs anymore because they're not credible to me, but are people on them expressing surprise?

    What I've seen more of is a continuted compartmentalization of Obamafans' opinions about the guy.  In other words, that they can criticize his poor judgment when it comes to expanding this war but yet still have such blind trust in him.


    if you are including me (none / 0) (#29)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:13:32 AM EST
    in the "blind trust" part you are unfamiliar with my comments here and elsewhere.

    No, I wasn't including you. (none / 0) (#34)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:18:11 AM EST
    I was just trying to ask who these "some on the left" are that you say are acting surprised.

    In a way, I think is a method of discrediting opponents of the war.  People who oppose the war, IMO, are taking a rational, centrist view because of the historical inability of military force to carry out the objectives stated by the administration.  War in this circumstance seems the radical view (just as it was when Bush was pursuing it).

    As far as I can see it, most Obamafans problem with regard to the war isn't their ignorance of Obama's position.  It's that they are unwilling to admit that Obama's poor judgment regarding the war could be indicative of his poor judgment generally.


    poor judgment? (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:26:06 AM EST
    or politics?  Neutralizing the right relative to their complaints that the left is soft on terror is purely political in my estimation.  Remember the "soccer mom" narrative in the 2004 election?  

    It seems to me this like HCR is about taking away narratives (we will reduce the deficit!) from the right.  The only thing missing is "women of cover" narrative.


    Call it what you will. (none / 0) (#48)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:30:05 AM EST
    I think politics becomes judgment when as President you send people off to die and waste huge sums of money for a war that by any historical measure will not achieve the objectives you are hoping to achieve (and is immoral to boot).  

    as far as Obamafans (none / 0) (#39)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:23:25 AM EST
    you may be right. I wouldnt know and am completely uninterested.

    Well then I guess I go (none / 0) (#43)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:24:25 AM EST
    back to the original question.  Who are the "some on the left" who are "surprised" by what Obama is doing?  

    you (none / 0) (#65)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:42:15 AM EST
    must have not paid attention in 2004 to all the Dean supporters. They thought he was going to do all this stuff since he was "against the war from the beginning" but if you looked at his actual poilcy it was to increase troops.

    silly really (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:06:19 AM EST
    "In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror."

    So after 3 more years of funding will you or President Obama go on record to say that we will no longer be the target of any Afghani/Pakistani assault?

    What are the benchmarks?  that the taliban or al qaida do not assume control in Afghanistan again?  Does that make us safer?  

    The primary problem with your argument and the presidents' for that matter is we are there.  And as long as we are there, we will continue to be targets.

    Taliban has taken cover in Pakistan and can lay in hiding while still attacking for decades.  Furthermore, the drug lords and bad people we are associating with to defeat our current bad guys are really no better.

    "finishing the job" is like taking your shoes off at the airport, neither one makes you safer, but they do make some people feel safer.

    If finishing the job means capturing Bin Laden and his major deputies than perhaps there is some legitimacy to it.  But pretending that we are going to create a country that can defend itself from itself is worse than naive, it's narcissism squared.

    This is my take (5.00 / 5) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:08:46 AM EST
    Someone got close.  Some islamic Talibanish fundy got a little too close to having themselves a Pak nuke or they had a good plan for it.  This is a decisive strike and we will pound the Taliban now.  Long term planning of stabilizing Afghanistan is secondary, maybe not even on the table given the other priorities that our own country has to address at this time.  You don't blitz combat 30,000 troops into anyplace and back out for no reason other than you have an immediate threat on your hands.  In 18 months perhaps he will take a look at some kind of stabilization plan but that isn't what we are doing right now.  Right now we are hitting the Taliban real quick and hard.  Now I know why my husband has hardly called home and then only for a few minutes before he falls down dead in a sleep.

    I agree totally (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:12:42 AM EST
    I think much of this overt war talk is to cover the covert CIA war in Pakistan.

    I hope so (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:13:49 AM EST
    to me it (none / 0) (#33)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:17:49 AM EST
    almost seemed like he was trying to say that last night.

    Per Booman the NSC let out (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:20:04 AM EST
    some of their concern in a call to him about the fundy epicenter that really is a serious problem in the region.  If they said this to a blogger....well, some $hit went down someplace.  The lack of desire to even have decent intel during the Bush administration was and still is appalling.  That has not been this administrations approach at all, but if you are going to go looking and start watching you could find something.  This President is not eager to do this AT ALL.  Based on his sheer lack of enthusiasm and the choice he made and the velocity it is being executed with...this is my take.

    I think thats right (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM EST
    he doesnt want to do this. anyone could see it in his face.  he has been persuaded, and not at all for political reasons, that he has to do this.
    if he was making "political decisions" with the left already pi$$ed off the speech last night would have been about ending our involvement there.

    I've never seen liberals (none / 0) (#93)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:57:42 AM EST
    this Pi$$ed in my WHOLE lifetime.  Not ticked about getting screwed over with heath-care, not ticked about skyhigh rising unemployment and no serious jobs creation stimulus.......NOPE....they have gone stark raving mad about a President having to address an actual threat to global well being.

    You're (none / 0) (#109)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:11:20 AM EST
    surprised at this? I'm not. Obama ran as the chi chi boutique anti war candidate and if you ever discussed anything with the 'bots it was always about how he was against the war. It didnt matter that he had a libermanish voting record in the senate or anything else he did.

    actually (5.00 / 2) (#113)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:15:20 AM EST
    he said repeatedly during the campaign that Afghanistan was the good war.

    Well (none / 0) (#129)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:28:19 AM EST
    Obama told a lot of lies so I guess they just decided that he was lying when he talked about Afghanistan. But I have a lot of sympathy for them in a way because he told so many things and one day he said Iran was a threat and the next day he said they weren't so which time was he lying? He made it simple for them to simply make up a fantasy and believe in that fantasy. Of course though the come down off of that fantasy is becoming really, really ugly.

    He's still doing it (5.00 / 2) (#163)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:36:03 PM EST
    I really don't know where he stands on Afganistan.  Is he committed to winning it?  Or not?  What's the real goal for him, other than getting out before he has to run again?

    I don't think he has "winning" in mind (none / 0) (#188)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:29:05 PM EST
    at all.  I think this only about addressing the epicenter of Islamic Extremists breeding terrorists acts.  Whatever measures will get us to that goal are what he seeks to use.

    But you can't even talk to them (none / 0) (#116)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:15:59 AM EST
    They are so spitting mad you have to constantly towel off.......at the computer :)

    which is really (5.00 / 1) (#147)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:52:01 AM EST
    entirely predictable.  nothing brings the moral high horses out of the stable like a troop escalation.
    which IMO really helps make the point that they had to do this.  they are many things the Obama administration.  they are not stupid.

    Perhaps there are other (none / 0) (#115)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:15:30 AM EST
    ways, other than a war in a style that historically have not been successful in achieving the objectives you seem to want them to achieve, to deal with threats.  Seems rational and centrist to look at facts and history as a guide to dealing with threats.

    What ways? (none / 0) (#117)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:16:22 AM EST
    You have access to (none / 0) (#121)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:19:49 AM EST
    to same history books I do.  You can also look up how other conflicts have been resolved in non-militaristic ways.

    Oh yes (3.50 / 2) (#126)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:24:53 AM EST
    Because this age and its dangers and its commodities and the ideals of its peoples are the exact same as any previous.  I have no time for further discussions with you.  You already know how all this is going to end for you too and you will spend the rest of your life arguing for the perspective of what happens that is the one you want to be all reality.

    Well, we have indeed reached (5.00 / 1) (#136)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:39:30 AM EST
    an impasse.  You think that since there is a "threat" (of which you have no actual facts) there were no other choices.  I think there are always choices, and that the choice to war flies in the face of the history of such conflicts and, in particular, the history of such attempts in the region, and that no one has provided any facts to explain why such a radical solution that flies in the fact of history would have any chance at success or even be necessary.

    The leader has made his choice, and that's the reality.  But merely stating it was the only choice is not a effective method of trying to convince others that is the right choice.


    There are so many false (4.00 / 3) (#157)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:21:08 PM EST
    assumptions and false "facts" in this statement, there's really nowhere to begin cataloguing them.  I'm a "peacenik," but you're turning me into a hawk just from sheer irritation at your forceful declaration of stuff you haven't bothered to think through with any care.

    I fail to see any logic (5.00 / 1) (#165)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:42:39 PM EST
    in your comments, I'm afraid to say.  I'm the one saying there are always choices, and being confronted by someone who thinks they can argue there are none simply by saying the word "threat."

    You seem to have an internal dialogue going on that is different than the one here.  


    Wow, I did not expect you to say (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:29:04 AM EST
    that Obama was lying to us -- I was ready to believe him that long-term stabilization is the primary goal.

    At least your spouse slept better than I did last night, trying to think through what was said to us.  Tonight, I'll just tell myself that it doesn't matter what was said, so I'll be able to nod off.


    You would come off that way (2.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:32:46 AM EST
    Just know this.....Dubya would have started a draft with this

    Nonsense as to Bush (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:42:02 AM EST
    would have done so; no way, as was evident in everything else, everyone else, he sent.  I think it far more likely that Obama would have to do so and would have the grit (or whatever it is) to do it.

    As to your first sentence, I have no idea what you really mean, so I will take no offense now, as I can understand and clearly see here that you're having a hard time with this, with a spouse over there.  

    I know people over there, too, though -- and more who may be next to go.  So I do lose sleep on this.


    Whatever (2.00 / 1) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:48:01 AM EST
    There is going to come a day when you will eat crow concerning all this.  I promise

    I would be delighted to be wrong (3.50 / 2) (#138)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:43:27 AM EST
    but I would be even more delighted that there would be no more deaths there, American or Afghan or British or others, who will be eating dirt.

    I remain convinced that you will be eating crow, as you are not persuasive but instead -- again, quite understandably -- only reactive.  However, I do hope that you will be eating it with your spouse still with you.


    I would say (5.00 / 1) (#144)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:49:25 AM EST
    that was below the belt.

    I would say you missed (none / 0) (#149)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:53:06 AM EST
    some shots taken at me above, but I am trying not to overreact to those, understanding MT's situation.

    Why would anyone need to intiate a draft (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:47:30 AM EST
    in this economy? The military has been having no problem recently meeting its recruitment goals. In many areas the military is the only one hiring.

    Oh, no -- that worries me even more (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:51:52 AM EST
    in realizing that there is another incentive for the administration to continue the "jobless recovery," to not generate job creation . . . with almost all of my progeny essentially unemployed now.  (Two are underemployed now, anyway -- one with a temp job 30 miles away, another with a part-time job 75 miles away.  These are not solutions.)

    Could Bush ever have a military too large (none / 0) (#80)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:48:46 AM EST
    to address actual real life threat with?

    Sad but true (none / 0) (#98)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:03:24 AM EST
    It's one of the few places left that offer a decent retirement plan and healthcare!

    Though I would certainly go along with a law that required a war tax and draft before any military action could be taken. It would be interesting to see how many hawks there would be, if they had to go back home and face the voters with the tax and draft instead of the flag waving and chest pounding they do now.

    The all volunteer and mercencary military we have now has allowed American's to be even more isolated from the realities of war. They even hide the costs in supplimental bills and blank checks so that people are unaware of the real costs of theses actions.


    Not a happy camper (5.00 / 6) (#36)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:20:58 AM EST
    I'm prepared to support the need to continue the Afghanistan involvement, but I want to know what's going to change in the way we're approaching it.  I heard absolutely none of that last night.

    What exactly are these troops going to do that's any different from what we've had them doing that isn't working?  I hear rumblings from everybody from Henry Kissinger to Fareed Zakaria that the objective has changed from establishing an effective national government and army to working to beef up tribal and regional governance and forces, which could be worth trying.  But I heard zippo other than generalities in this speech.

    As I said in the earlier thread, too much why, not enough what.

    Regarding the what (none / 0) (#140)
    by CST on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:44:18 AM EST
    It would be comforting to know, but something I would never expect to hear.  "What" seems to be one of those security-sensitive issues.

    At the end of the day it comes down to trusting the military leaders.  Something that does NOT come easily these days.  Although trusting the goals and mission makes it a bit easier to trust the people in charge of said mission.


    Working with, say (5.00 / 1) (#158)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:25:02 PM EST
    tribal regions rather than the central government is no way, nohow "security-sensitive."  We were actually told in fairly extensive detail what Bush's Iraq "surge" was about, where it would be concentrated, why it would be different from what they'd been doing up until then and why they all thought it would work.

    There's no reason Obama can't do the same.


    What does this refer to? (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:22:49 AM EST
    In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror.

    We captured a lot of 3s (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:30:27 AM EST
    Unlike Bush, Obama did not hold a press conference every time a 3 was captured.

    Well okay (5.00 / 4) (#55)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:33:20 AM EST
    but is there any documentation of this?  The key words would seem to be "within our borders."

    I wondered that too when he said it. (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:41:15 AM EST
    If someone is captured within our borders what happens to them?  Isn't their detention documented somewhere?

    Same here; I found that line quite jarring (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:43:18 AM EST
    as is the lack of attention to it today.

    I agree, what did that mean? (none / 0) (#166)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:44:56 PM EST
    Is he keeping secrets like Bush?  When and where were these terrorist captured?  

    I think its entirely possible (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:45:03 AM EST
    this administration has taken many actions in and out of the country that we have not and will never hear about.

    I see your point (none / 0) (#59)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:38:32 AM EST
    I missed that.

    Sounds like the Lackawanna/Miami nonsense.

    I assume a few people that were in Af/Pak were captured but this is clearly hyperbole on Obama's part.


    I am surprised (5.00 / 1) (#106)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:09:03 AM EST
    no one is asking about that; but oh, Tiger Woods, or something.

    Exactly! (none / 0) (#167)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:45:51 PM EST
    I don't care about Tiger Woods or his mistresses. I do care about captured terrorists.  

    Bush-esque (none / 0) (#62)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:40:53 AM EST
    I don't get the sense that is the headline of today's news though.  And if Bush were still in office, it certainly would be.

    It means we did (none / 0) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:27:46 AM EST
    So (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:23:34 AM EST
    What about those of us who remained thoroughly unpersuaded about the rightness of this war or the president's stated reasons for it? What about the increasingly persuasive evidence that everything we're doing over there has the opposite effect of what we claim?

    I guess this sums it up:

    Only an idiot could genuinely believe that murdering civilians and conducting "black ops" all over the country could somehow establish "security and prosperity" in Pakistan; and Obama is no idiot. But he, like all the mandarins of our ruling class, is counting on the fact that you are an idiot.


    So what is chris-floyd's solution? (none / 0) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:28:52 AM EST
    I'm not saying no, but I need more detail (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by andgarden on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:32:10 AM EST
    aboutsbout the strategy and objectives.

    I know this is hard (none / 0) (#58)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:37:37 AM EST
    We are going after somebody very hard.  I remember once when I was a freshman in high school some bully girl told me she was going to kill me.  I went home crying and told my father.  My father told me not to worry because usually when people mean to kill you they don't warn you :)

    I don't like it. (5.00 / 2) (#155)
    by NYShooter on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:06:38 PM EST
    From my days (years, actually) in SE Asia during the late 60's to the present, every time we stuck our noses into regions we don't understand we pay a terrible price, and gain a negligible, if any, "victory."

    What's so special about Afghanistan? There's rocks and dirt in 90% of the world. Mumbai was carried out by a bunch of uneducated, brainwashed, teenagers, robotically carrying out their orders via cell-phone from handlers half way around the world. You know what happens when you scoop up a teaspoon of mercury and dump it on the floor? It does an imitation of the "enemy," scattering to a million godforsaken hellholes around the globe.

    You want to get rid of the Taliban, and their anal cyst, Al-Qaida?  Do it the Wall Street way, pay'm. Put a thousand buck bounty on every bullet-ridden, Qaida skull, plus a matching thousand buck payment towards a school, hospital, or museum. In the end, the Afghans will do it themselves.  You know, there was a saying in the Jewish neighborhood I grew up in. When a young boy (or girl) wanted to invest in the stock market, but complained he/she didn't know anything about it, an elder would respond, "save up a hundred bucks, and buy a stock, any stock." "Within a week you`ll know more about the stock market than you'd learn in four years at Wharton's.....it's called a vested interest.

    Take it from me, I know why we didn't "win" in Viet Nam, because you simply can`t defeat a foe who will not be defeated. Show'm what a great country they could have; reach down deep, give'm what they need: teachers, nurses, engineers. We can give'm the bricks and mortor; they can do the killing themselves.

    Give'm an incentive; do it the American way, give`em money.


    Yup. So simple. Bounty hunters. (none / 0) (#169)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:55:45 PM EST
    Yup. So simple. Bounty hunters. (none / 0) (#170)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:56:33 PM EST
    Pakistan (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:32:12 AM EST
    Obama was always open about his intent to go into Pakistan. Seems he brought it up in several debates, as well as speeches.

    In an address on national security to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on August 1, 2007, Obama stated that as President he would consider military action in Pakistan in order to attack al-Qaeda, even if the Pakistani government did not give approval.[206] Obama said, "I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America."[207] He also said "As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to reinforce our counter-terrorism operations".[208]

    On August 1, 2007 Obama declared in a foreign policy speech that the United States must be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, with or without the consent of the Pakistani government. He said, "If we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will".[209] On the same day in response, then-White House press secretary Tony Snow highlighted the policy's shift from the position established by the Bush Administration, he said: "Our approach to Pakistan is one that not only respects the sovereignty of Pakistan as a sovereign government, but is also designed to work in a way where we are working in cooperation with the local government".[210]

    After weeks of discourse surrounding the policy, Obama said there was misreporting of his comments, saying that, "I never called for an invasion of Pakistan or Afghanistan." He clarified that rather than a surge in the number of troops in Iraq, there needs to be a "diplomatic surge" and that if there were "actionable intelligence reports" showing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the U.S. troops as a last resort should enter and try to capture terrorists. That would happen, he added, only if "the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling" to go after the terrorists.[211][212]

    Obama has said that he would hold Pakistan accountable for the massive military aid it has received from Washington if he were elected to the White House.[213] He said his administration will increase pressure on Pakistan to come to terms with terrorist safe havens along its northern border with Afghanistan. He noted that the US was providing Pakistan military aid which he said was being misused by that country to prepare for a war against India.[213]

    Yep (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:43:09 AM EST
    Nothing Obama is doing or saying is a surprise, on neither the domestic nor the foreign-policy front.

    Malalai Joya, a former member of the Afghani parliament, says that in announcing the new surge, Obama

    will be making something worse than a mistake. It is a continuation of a war crime against the suffering people of my country.

    I have said before that by installing warlords and drug traffickers in power in Kabul, the US and Nato have pushed us from the frying pan to the fire. Now Obama is pouring fuel on these flames, and this week's announcement of upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences.


    Also, Al Jazeera had a poll up finding that among the Afghani people, the U.S. enjoys a hefty 20% popularlity rating (Karzai's is over 60%). But what does it matter what they think, it's only their country, right?

    Oh and then there's the little matter of massive defections from the Afghan army:


    We don't care (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:48:38 AM EST
    We are right, everyone else is wrong.

    That is the essence of our national being on the international scene.


    you are aware (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:54:36 AM EST
    that NATO and most of the world is on our side on this one, right?

    and that Bush is no longer in charge?


    The Brits signed on for 5 more years (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:01:59 AM EST
    hmmmm, they were having problems too previously getting agreement to stay with us so another reason to suspect that "something went down".  If other NATO nations kick in here quickly, I think it is safe to assume we have a verified global threat on our hands.

    only 5000 (none / 0) (#102)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:05:17 AM EST
    You think American exceptionalism (none / 0) (#112)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:14:12 AM EST
    was invented by Bush?

    It has been our excuse/rationale/whichever in every one of our wars, afar and at home.


    one of the (none / 0) (#119)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:17:12 AM EST
    criticisms I kept hearing last night is that Obama is not a believer in American exceptionalism.

    I thought not, too -- (none / 0) (#151)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:55:19 AM EST
    until the speech last night.  He has had to subscribe to exceptionalism to justify his decision.  They all do, it seems.  (JFK also was said to not subscribe to it -- so whenever I see it, I know it's really the reporter or pundit not subscribing to it.)

    Didn't JFK commit troops to Vietnam? (none / 0) (#168)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:48:53 PM EST
    Exactly. He ramped it up (none / 0) (#171)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:01:56 PM EST
    but was given a bye by so many in media, because he was young and cute and must have been a liberal because he said he was (although he actually was quite the Cold Warrior), etc.  The past is prologue.

    JFK "ramped it up" (none / 0) (#192)
    by brodie on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:39:44 PM EST
    only in increasing the number of non-combat advisory personnel.  He always firmly said no to sending in combat troops.

    Then in the final 6 wks of his presidency, he announced his withdrawal program with 1k advisers net to come home by Xmas '63.  Not exactly the actions of a "cold warrior."

    The real cold warrior LBJ, alas, reversed this policy w/n a few days of taking office.


    IIRC, BTD is a believer in AE. (none / 0) (#172)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:02:45 PM EST
    So are a lot of people (none / 0) (#184)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:53:13 PM EST
    who never have persuaded me on it.

    I don't think this speech was persuasive (5.00 / 3) (#81)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:49:11 AM EST
    It didn't persuade me.   Which is not to say I'm making up my mind based solely on a speech.   But this speech didn't help me make up my mind at all.  

    I agree that Pakistan is key.  But those three paragraphs that you call the highlight left me cold.  

    "Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust."  

    Nice words.  Sort of like "bipartisan".  

    One thing I liked... (5.00 / 4) (#89)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:54:53 AM EST
    is that we're finally talking about the cost and how it must be weighed against what we hope to gain.

    Other than that...tired justifications for an continued occupation is all I heard last night.  The only thing we're fighting for and can hope to gain is a false sense of security from a very small number of violent extremists.

    I guess we had to do something in response to 9/11...more people had to die.  Might not like it but I get it.  8 years and counting of occupation however is just madness to me.  

    Well (5.00 / 2) (#103)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:06:08 AM EST
    it didnt make me support it or be against it. It really just did nothing for me but I don't trust Obama at all. He's just lied too many times for me to take him at his word so I will just have to wait and see what he does.

    I dont think he's going to get much support on this mission from the country. In trying to please everybody he seems to have done nothing but make a lot of people mad and then he sends everybody out to start walkign back the speech so it must've bombed in the overnight polling.

    I think that the country is just so sick of war and being lied to about said wars and the fact that we have so many problems here at home-- double digit unemployment etc. I don't see the country supporting him in this endeavor.

    To paraphrase Sirota (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:09:53 AM EST
    At least Obama did not pretend we are doing this for the good of the Afghani people.

    I thought he summed up the situation to date well, which was needed.

    This escalation seems to me to be a true surge in force as well as training the Afghani forces, meant to see what can be accomplished in a fairly short period (18 months). I have no doubt that the 18 month period is not a hard deadline, and will be re-evaluated as time goes by.

    I can't say I feel any more confident that this is not going to be a long-term quagmire than I did yesterday. I really don't know what the best answer is. Is this really going to make us more safe from terrorists? I just don't know.

    Read the "18 months" line again (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:17:06 AM EST
    as it is only when we will begin to withdraw, Obama said (if circumstances permit, etc., as noted elsewhere).

    That is not an end date.  And I would bet that Obama's communications with Afghanistan and other countries emphasize that there is no end date.


    If you're correct (5.00 / 1) (#130)
    by kidneystones on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:29:25 AM EST
    that might make even less sense than promising to 'get out' quick, an eventuality neither of us believes is likely.

    Der Speigel ripped the speech to shreds.


    If? It's in the link (none / 0) (#135)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:36:59 AM EST
    here to his speech.  

    I see the 18 months as the (none / 0) (#181)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:29:20 PM EST
    surge-and-evaluate period. Begin to draw down after that is indeed what he said, and it makes sense to me.

    So it's a partnership... (5.00 / 2) (#114)
    by Addison on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:15:21 AM EST
    ...and one where we're providing "capability" -- here I read cash, Predator drones, and intelligence, among other things -- to a pair of governments and they're providing us entry into their sovereign nation.

    Can we be convinced that either the Afghan or Pakistani governments are (1) stable enough, (2) trustworthy enough, and (3) aligned enough with our interests to make sure this strategy actually works and doesn't just crumple into a heap of our dollars going to line the pockets of gov't poobahs, US drones doing targeted assassinations of political enemies, and a situation eventually ending in an Iran-like revolution against our favored son?

    I don't see why that scenario isn't as likely as not.

    Best analysis (5.00 / 2) (#132)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:30:07 AM EST
    Best analysis of the speech, imo, by Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com -- he responds to every claim Obama puts forward succintly and damningly. Really, read the whole thing, but the end is really powerful:

    The low point of this ponderous peroration was the startling discovery that Obama pines for the good old days of the Bush era, when we were all united - in fear:

    "It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united – bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe with every fiber of my being that we – as Americans – can still come together behind a common purpose."

    Yes - mass murder is indeed a common purpose. The common purpose of every army of aggressors. It is a purpose, however, that no civilized people ever takes up. Unlike Obama, I do not long for the return of the darkest days of the Bush years, when fear permeated the air like a poisonous fog, and all those who broke the sacred "unity" of the moment were denounced as "traitors" and "fifth columnists" by the Smear Bund.

    So, you thought Obama was going to be different - that he represented "change"? Well, in the end, you got the same blood and thunder, the rhetorical boilerplate common to all demagogues:

    "We are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes."

    The resolve of fanatics and fools is perpetually "unwavering." Aggressors and bullies are always "going forward." And the mighty are always supremely assured of the rightness of their cause. They claim to want only "security," and their appeal is invariably to the "highest of hopes."

    And it always ends in oceans of blood.


    A couple of points. (5.00 / 1) (#143)
    by Radix on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:47:36 AM EST
    Although Obama may consider Karzai legit, Afghan's apparently don't.

    If it's the drug trade that's hindering our efforts, perhaps Karzai can ask his brother to stop selling opium.

    Which faction are we supporting again? The Northern non-Pashtun Afghans, the rural Pashtun's who see this as a war against their culture and traditions. Or the progressive Pashtun's, the same group the Soviets were backing.

    One last point, just because an action may have been a good idea 8 years ago doesn't mean it's still a good idea today.

    Just Buy the Whole Crop! (none / 0) (#162)
    by bselznick on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:33:42 PM EST
    Many have made a good argument to just buy the whole F-ing poppy crop.  The UN estimates that this would be $2 Billion.  I hate to say that $2 billion isn't a lot of money, which it is, but we probably spend more than that trying to deal with what happens to this crop on the black market.

    Wouldn't that be a great partnership and generate a lot of good will.  America sets up a one-stop shop for farmers, bring it all here, no bickering, we're paying so much per ton or whatever in USD.  Here you go, see ya next year.  

    This would rob the Taliban and company of the majority of their dirty money, probably the CIA too, and we could turn it into legit medicines.  Plus whatever we don't use we could sell to the rest of the world -- as legit medicines of course.


    This isn't such a crazy idea. (none / 0) (#173)
    by rennies on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:02:48 PM EST
    Weaken the Taliban, kill off the heroin trade, win over the people.

    That seems to have worked in Turkey, (none / 0) (#177)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:12:23 PM EST
    Tolly-bahn... (5.00 / 1) (#145)
    by desertswine on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:50:07 AM EST
    Obama sounded like George Bush with an education.

    Heh. Bugged me too...annoying. (none / 0) (#178)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:13:19 PM EST
    He's always done that (none / 0) (#182)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:31:39 PM EST
    I know it is correct, but I've always thought it would serve him better to put his Kansas grandparents' twang on it.

    this train of thought (none / 0) (#183)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:40:46 PM EST
    seems very odd to me.  there are many things I dislike about Obama.  the fact that he is capable of correctly pronouncing the names of other countrys is not one of them.

    personally I think if I hear EYE-rack one more time my head will explode.


    And (none / 0) (#200)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 04:26:13 PM EST
    How about EYE-ran?

    it is irresponsible and wrong (5.00 / 4) (#160)
    by fairleft on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:30:01 PM EST
    to pretend the United States is there because it doesn't have imperial designs on Afghanistan. Heck, forget designs, we're there, we're running the show, that's imperialism. Imperialism is the fact, why we're establishing an imperialist outpost in Afghanistan is the unanswered question, imho. None of the reasons we're there offered by Obama make sense: (1) to give time to Afghan army to get its act together (not going to happen, we know that); (2) nukes in Pakistan (they're in the hands of the non-Pashtun majority and that won't change); (3) chasing al qaeda (we're in Afghanistan in the tens of thousands, fighting the Taliban, in order to catch 100 members of Al Qaeda?).

    The fear of Pakistan is what? (none / 0) (#1)
    by robotalk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:43:39 AM EST
    The fact it has nuclear weapons?  If so, deal with that issue and you have effectively dealt with Pakistan.  

    I'm sure our ally Pakistan and the UN could assure safekeeping of such weapons--escort them out until stability occurs.  Since their mere existence appears to be the sole cause for continuing the war in Afghanistan, removing them removes our security concern and obviates the need for escalation/destruction/death.

    If you are so sure about that why (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:49:20 AM EST
    aren't they?

    because that is a silly assumption (5.00 / 6) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:51:41 AM EST
    does anyone actually think they would simply allow their nukes to be "escorted out of the country".

    So you're in favor of the Bush doctrine? (none / 0) (#10)
    by dk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:53:13 AM EST
    If a country we has like may or may not have weapons we don't like, we should invade them (or the country next to them, if that is more feasible politically)?

    I dont believe that is (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:57:16 AM EST
    actually what I said. what I said was it is stupid to think they would allow the UN to "remove" them.

    Never ending cycle (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:21:20 AM EST
    I have this dread in the back of my mind that I won't live long enough to see us out of the region. We've gone fron Afghan to Iraq. Now back to Afghan. Then we'll end up "stabilizing" Pakistan before we move on to "neutralizing" Iran. A very scary scenerio.

    At some point the people in the region are going to have to stand up for the type of country they want to have. We can't fight everyones battles for them.


    There are weapons in this sad (none / 0) (#127)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:26:27 AM EST
    story though that can bring with them a devastation like nothing we can imagine.

    We can't do it alone (none / 0) (#152)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:59:38 AM EST
    Then it's time we seriously engage the international community in the problem with shared responsibilities. The genie will never be put back in the bottle. It's only going to get worse. Pakistan has shown it's willingness to sell it's nuclear knowledge. It's only a matter of time before others have them as well.

    The idea that the US has to secure the world is not only unrealistic, it's unattainable. How long can we continue this policy? The drain on the military as well as the treasury isn't a bottonless pit.

    Afghanistan has taken 9 yrs to get where we are.  How many years and lives did the Soviet Union invest in Afghanistan before it gave up? How long would Pakistan or Iran be?

    The Bush doctrine of to h#ll with the international community, we don't need anyone has to end. We do need the rest of the world.


    Poof just make them disappear (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:51:41 AM EST
    Would we send men in black suits with brief cases attached to their hands to just escort them out?

    Well, if Pakistan (none / 0) (#28)
    by robotalk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:13:02 AM EST
    won't cooperate in this, knowing the death and destruction which will occur if they don't, will let us know who are friends really are.

    Really, this is a very rational argument.  

    The rational and the real, I agree, sometimes are not the same thing.  That doesn't mean we accept the irrational.  And this escalation is irrational.


    Jeepers! (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:10:35 AM EST
    Shouldn't people have a little bit of knowledge about the regional dynamics before opining?  Just to start with, do you have a clue why Pakistan wants to hang onto its nukes for dear life and even tests them once in a while to demonstrate their readiness?

    Honestly, your post is breath-taking.


    I assume you refer to India (none / 0) (#32)
    by robotalk on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:16:11 AM EST
    India is our ally, too.  India is not going to start a nuclear war.  It is not going to invade.  This can be assured with treaties.

    If you mean the North Koreans, well that issue should be dealt with internationally, not left to Pakistan.


    The North Koreans? (none / 0) (#69)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:43:25 AM EST

    Got Straw? (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:52:57 AM EST
    ROTFL! (none / 0) (#96)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:01:42 AM EST
    I Disagree (none / 0) (#18)
    by gtesta on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:08:43 AM EST
    with "The Nature of the Commitment" for 2 reasons:
    1. "As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda" - Actually, we don't know that.  As far as I know, no attempt was made by the Bush Admin. to present to the world the evidence that we have for this assertion.  The videotape that was found of Bin Laden claiming responsibility for the attacks of 9/11 is of dubious authenticity.
    2.  "Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them" - use of military force is not synonomous with massive land-based armed invasion and occupation, along with the supporting logistics train and the (usually) double the number of contractors to support the military effort.  

    Wow (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:11:50 AM EST
    I really see no point if discussing this with you if you are going to be as foolish as this.

    Next you'll want to discuss 7 WTC.


    I'm no tin-foil hatter. (none / 0) (#37)
    by gtesta on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:22:41 AM EST
    I'll briefly point out two inconsistencies of the videotape "confession/claim" - 1. "Bin Laden" states the attacks succeeded much better than we hoped because the iron support beams melted.  Bin Laden is an engineer, he would know that support beams in any high-rise are steel. 2. "Bin Laden has a ring on his finger - a strict wahabist, he would never wear jewelry.  I'm not going to go on a tangent on this, only that a major crime was committed on U.S. soil and, I don't believe we ever provided credible evidence.
    Military force can be special forces operating with laser-guided missles.  I believe that we have the right to defend ourselves anywhere in the world when our interests are attacked, but our response should be proportional.

    WSWS: Oppose escalation of Afghan-Pakistan war! (none / 0) (#66)
    by Andreas on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:42:39 AM EST
    I usually do not post the same quotes twice here. But I think the continuous war propaganda by Talkleft justifies it this time. Also the WSWS is the main website stating that the war has an imperialist character (and had it from the very first day)- a characterisation BTD explicitely disagrees with.

    Oppose Obama's escalation of the Afghan-Pakistan war!

    Withdraw all troops now!

    Obama's speech last night, which packaged the deployment of an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan as the prelude to withdrawal, was a cynical exercise in evasion, double-talk and falsification.

    The new deployment is a major escalation of an unpopular war that will lead to the deaths of countless thousands of Afghanis and Pakistanis and a significant rise in US casualties. Indeed, many of the West Point cadets who were assembled to listen to the president's speech will be sent to Afghanistan to fight in a war that the majority of Americans oppose.

    Obama's invocation of the attacks of September 11, 2001 to portray the war as a defense against terrorism is a fraud. The real reason for the occupation of Afghanistan--widely discussed within the foreign policy establishment--is to maintain a dominant position in oil-rich Central Asia in the interests of the global strategy of American imperialism.

    This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which then-president Jimmy Carter denounced as an illegal act of international aggression. What was not widely known at the time is that the US deliberately provoked Moscow to undertake its military adventure by financing and arming Mujahedeen guerrillas opposed to the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Among those on the CIA payroll were Osama bin Laden and current leaders of the Taliban.

    The result of this imperialist policy, authored by then-national security adviser and current foreign policy adviser to Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has been three decades of war, civil war and social devastation. The Obama administration is intensifying this colonialist enterprise.

    Oppose Obama's escalation of the Afghan-Pakistan war!
    Withdraw all troops now!

    2 December 2009, By the World Socialist Web Site editorial board

    Agreed, Andreas (none / 0) (#76)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:47:55 AM EST
    I do not get the cheering on of continual occupation and bloodshed that seems to go on here when it comes to Afghanistan, so I'm as mystified as you are.

    But I would posit one small disagreement, the WSWS is not the only site talking about the war's clearly imperialistic character. Antiwar.com has been on that from day one of the Iraq adventure, as have Chris Floyd and Arthur Silber, not to mention several blogs that focus on Middle East policies.

    Imperialism (none / 0) (#125)
    by Andreas on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:24:38 AM EST
    I know that the WSWS is not the "only site talking about the war's clearly imperialistic character" and I did not write that.

    In fact many millions of people worldwide think that it is an imperialist war and therefore it is natural that you will find other websites, blogs etc. opposing the war and even some using the term "imperialist war".

    But imperialist war does not simply mean conquering other countries country. Imperialism is a term used by Marxists for the end-state of global capitalism. The term was developed by Lenin in his book "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism" (1916).

    Antiwar.com does not oppose capitalism. It is a right-wing website. If you think that it is a left-wing site then I suggest that you have a look at this page: http://antiwar.com/who.php. A few years agon they even published an article defending the fascistic regime in Chile created by Pinochet and US imperialism.


    Military funds must flow (none / 0) (#78)
    by NealB on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:48:20 AM EST
    That's all these wars are about. Keeping the military with a mission, any mission they can get away with so national treasure keeps going to the military. Everything Obama said was a lie.

    unbelievable (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 10:55:25 AM EST
    just when you think knees cant jerk any higher.

    You make a strong argument (none / 0) (#101)
    by Coral on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:04:19 AM EST
    But I am still very frustrated at this ongoing war, which could have been avoided altogether with clearer thinking and strategy/tactics after 9/11. Maybe even before 9/11 (Memo on bin Laden that Bush & Co ignored summer 2001).

    I'd like to see a draw down of troops, and a refocusing of our resources here in the U.S.

    Pakistan has been a problematic state from it's inception. I'd like to see Obama, Clinton, and others involved in foreign policy formulation articulate some kind of workable, overarching approach to that area of the world. We desperately need a new framework vis-a-vis the Middle East and South Asia and a new way to engage the Muslim World in general.

    What I feel I am seeing is more step-by-step, ad hoc approach that is full of pitfalls and possible unintended consequences that we will be regretting in the upcoming decade or two.

    Very well put -- I am not persuaded (none / 0) (#175)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:05:23 PM EST
    that we have (or have had time to have) attempted a new way of diplomacy.  So we are continuing the old way of the previous administration -- war.

    I don't know how to find the time for such diplomacy.  But I would have liked to hear more about it.  Then again, it was a military audience.


    I came away from the speech (none / 0) (#128)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:28:06 AM EST
    feeling that Obama is sincere, but that this cannot succeed.

    Not me (5.00 / 1) (#203)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 04:38:05 PM EST
    I don't think he was sincere - or insincere either.
    I think he was delivering a speech meant to sell the war to people who don't want any more war.
    He didn't even have the graciousness to speak directly to the American people. We had to watch him deliver this garbage directly to the military. He's trying to manipulate us right there.

    Different Headline? (none / 0) (#133)
    by bselznick on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:31:46 AM EST
    Denver Post:
    "Obama orders 30,000-troop increase for Afghanistan"

    I'm just curious, and too lazy to look this up myself.  But wasn't the "Surge" always referred to as just that, the "Surge" in Iraq?  Did the Denver Post or most other newspapers speak of "Bush Orders ..." or did they used to print "xx,xxx more troops for Surge" without ever assigning the responsibility for this decision to the "Decider" you know the "War President"... that guy from Texas in the big White House.

    Funny, how Afghanistan is now Obama's war.  WTF.  Do we all collective just forget how and when this war started.  

    Vietnam was Nixon's war, and LBJ's war (5.00 / 2) (#137)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:40:12 AM EST
    as well, even though it was JFK who first ramped it up, after Ike had sent "advisors," too.

    And this is no "false history," unquote Obama.  He and others here want to argue that Afghanistan is not Vietnam.  But the U.S. is still the U.S., and real history tells us that every war becomes owned by every president who puts his fingers on it -- puts troops into it.


    Vietnam became their wars (none / 0) (#174)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:04:43 PM EST
    Because LBJ and Nixon were the Presidents.  Presidents can end the wars.  They didn't, for far too long, so the Vietnam war became their war.  Ditto for Obama.  He did not have to send more troops to Afganistan, he could have announced that he was beginning a draw down that would get us out of Afganistan.  He didn't.  Now it's his war, he escalated it.  He hasn't ended it.  But I suspect that he will prior to 2012.  He will then take credit for having ended the war.  

    Let's not forget, plenty of people wanted out of Vietnam in 1968 when Nixon promised to end the war.  In 1972, he ran again, without having ended the war, and won in a landslide.   I don't foresee a democrat getting away with that, but I've been wrong before.   Perhaps Obama can win re election without ending the war.  


    Losing (5.00 / 1) (#202)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 04:29:52 PM EST
    Perhaps Obama can win re election without ending the war.  

    But I hope not.
    I want him out of office.
    I want a progressive in office.


    It was initially LBJs War (none / 0) (#193)
    by brodie on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:48:20 PM EST
    since he was the first to send in combat units.  Can't wage war unless you have combat troops.

    Nixon drew down our troop strength significantly by the time of the 72 election, with nearly all or all combat units either out of the country or the few remaining only in a protective stance.  No draftees had been sent over, iirc, in the preceding year or so.  Thus what war we were waging by then was mostly in the air, and that was still plenty, especially by the end of 72.  

    But the big news for Nixon and his political fortunes was that by effectively bringing home the troops, he took away McGovern's only solid campaign issue.  Couple that with a truly inept campaign by the Dem, and you have a landslide.


    The first American military death (none / 0) (#195)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:23:28 PM EST
    in Viet Nam was in 1945.

    It was a combat zone then and for decades afterward.  So presidents were sending military and others into combat, whether or not they were paid for it and trained for it and equipped for it.

    Sorry, but your hair-splitting does not work for me.  This is reminiscent of Congress clinging to its nicety of so many women in our wars now who are "supply troops."  They are in combat zones, and they are dying in combat -- although some I knew also were not paid for it, trained for it, or armed for it or protected from it.


    Were the advisers in (none / 0) (#196)
    by brodie on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:55:25 PM EST
    harm's way?  Yes, of course.  And Kennedy was keenly aware of the risk and human loss as aides later noted.

    But last I checked the distinction between committing advisory personnel and combat units is an important one, especially in lives lost and money spent.  Certainly the president and his admin and the Pentagon considered it an important difference, as when the brass repeatedly requested combat troops be sent in, and just as many times Kennedy said no.


    All of them: (none / 0) (#197)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:58:08 PM EST
    Eisenhauer, Kennedy, Nixon, LBJ with thier pathetic public grandstanding centering around who was "soft" and who was "tough" on communism and the overarching threat of dominoes falling forever, fed into the self-perpetuating mythology that Vietman was a war the world couldnt afford to lose.

    Who killed cock robin?


    The record shows (none / 0) (#198)
    by brodie on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 04:16:26 PM EST
    that Kennedy rejected the simplistic Domino Theory that Ike had conjured up one day, perhaps on the golf course in between shots.

    Funny thing though, it resonated with the public and the political and nat'l security establishment, and went unexamined for a number of years.  So Kennedy had to pay it lip service in some of his public utterances (as pols today are forced to embrace American Exceptionalism), but he didn't let it rule his FP, as happened with the unthinking and unsophisticated Lyndon, who was a big believer in the DT and Ike generally.


    Ike? (none / 0) (#201)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 04:26:34 PM EST
    I always thought it was the Dulles brothers and those who reputedly told Truman he was going to need to "scare the hell out of the American people".

    All Im saying is that they, and many others, bore a good deal of reponsibility for making sure the paranoic red-scare meme was ingrained deeply in the Amercian consciousness. Of course, in actuality, the paranoid American p.r campaign goes back to the days of the Palmer raids, if not before.


    Gates has released his (none / 0) (#176)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:09:49 PM EST
    statement that he will give the Armed Services Committee tomorrow a day early.......Adm Mullen spoke today. More news pertaining....

    pathetic excuse for a speech, (none / 0) (#180)
    by cpinva on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:27:22 PM EST
    i have no idea why he bothered delaying the start of NCIS.

    a. no, weren't compelled to invade afghanistan, they didn't fly planes into the towers in nyc, the pentagon and the ground in PA. we chose to take that approach, which has so far been a miserable failure. it will continue to be one, until we leave.

    b. who schedules a war? what is this, the middle-ages?; wars are scheduled between spring planting and fall harvest.

    frankly, his speech made little sense; if, after nearly 9 years, the afghan government and military is still unable to stand on its own, another 18-24 months isn't going to do it.

    stop wasting lives and money. throw in a copy of the home version, as a lovely parting gift, and get out of there!

    He also delayed start of (none / 0) (#194)
    by fairleft on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:21:51 PM EST
    "So You Think You Can Dance?" If the speech had been on Monday or today, Obama would've delayed start of "House" or "Glee"; that may have played a part in speech scheduling.

    My impression of President Obama's (none / 0) (#186)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:19:07 PM EST
    speech was a distillate of three major ingredients, an Afghanistan that is to be a staging area for our efforts in Pakistan in thwarting its further destabilization, to control the Pakistan/India volley, and a buy-off of Afghanistan in cash and security for use/occupation of their country.  As for Afghanistan, I sense an eleven dimensional chess move:if there is  no way out, go further in, with the companion expectation that the Afghan Taliban will lay in the weeds until our troops move on forcing Karzai to strike a deal before we leave. The timelines do not support much more for Afghanistan, and the dice has been rolled as to the effectiveness of keeping American forces, not in, but near,  Pakistan to facilitate the defusing of  that time bomb.

    I would call that (none / 0) (#189)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:30:42 PM EST
    a fairly astute distillation.